Spontaneous neural activity during human slow wave sleep

Thien Thanh Dang-Vu, Manuel Schabus, Martin Desseilles, Geneviève Albouy, Mélanie Boly, Annabelle Darsaud, Steffen Gais, Géraldine Rauchs, Virginie Sterpenich, Gilles Vandewalle, Julie Carrier, Gustave Moonen, Evelyne Balteau, Christian Degueldre, André Luxen, Christophe Phillips, Pierre Maquet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Slow wave sleep (SWS) is associated with spontaneous brain oscillations that are thought to participate in sleep homeostasis and to support the processing of information related to the experiences of the previous awake period. At the cellular level, during SWS, a slow oscillation (140 microV) and delta waves (75-140 microV) during SWS in 14 non-sleep-deprived normal human volunteers. Significant increases in activity were associated with these waves in several cortical areas, including the inferior frontal, medial prefrontal, precuneus, and posterior cingulate areas. Compared with baseline activity, slow waves are associated with significant activity in the parahippocampal gyrus, cerebellum, and brainstem, whereas delta waves are related to frontal responses. No decrease in activity was observed. This study demonstrates that SWS is not a state of brain quiescence, but rather is an active state during which brain activity is consistently synchronized to the slow oscillation in specific cerebral regions. The partial overlap between the response pattern related to SWS waves and the waking default mode network is consistent with the fascinating hypothesis that brain responses synchronized by the slow oscillation restore microwake-like activity patterns that facilitate neuronal interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15160-5
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2008


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neurons
  • Sleep


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